Airbus A380 Australia Visit
Trip Report and review by Sam Chui

All photos copyright Sam Chui, November 2005

November 12, 2005 Saturday

I flew up to Brisbane at 6:30am in the morning as the A380 is scheduled to arrive at 8am (first time in Australia!). However due to the late departure from Singapore (its previous tour stop) the new arrival time is set to be at 9am. Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) chartered a bus for members of media and journalists and took us to the duty runway for better photograph and spectating position. After a few international arrivals, the A380 arrived sharp at 9:05am and landed on Rwy19. The weather was just cleared to allow some fantastic photo opportunities. To my slight disappointment the Singapore Airlines titles were stripped off before its departure in Singapore so she arrived in Brisbane with only small Airbus A380 decal. It went straight into Qantas Hanger for the Qantas decal fitting. That was my 2nd close encounter to the next queen of the sky! The first was her maiden airborne in Toulouse, France on April 27, 2005. I flew back to Sydney at 10am after the A380 arrival.

First ever arrival of A380 in Australia.

Fantastic close encounter with the maiden A380  F-WWOW (msn 001)

Straight into Qantas Hanger to apply the Qantas decal.
The crowd for the A380 at the airport viewing area.

November 13, 2005, Sunday

Today the A380 will leave Brisbane, in Qantas decal livery at 6am and schedule to arrive in Sydney at 9:10am after a few low passes around Sydney Harbour. Media and VIPs were invited by Qantas and Sydney Airport (SACL) to view the A380 landing and to attend press conference and later, to inspect the aircraft.

The weather in Sydney was superb, moderate variable wind conditions. After some initial confusion of the landing runway (was rumoured to be Rwy16R and later Rwy25!) The A380 turned on final for Rwy34L, the most preferred runway for her arrival, so she can exit at the end of the runway and turn into Qantas Jetbase with minimum maneuvering required.

The arrival was slightly delayed until 10:05am, with an incredible crowd around every possible vantage point in the airport causing traffic delays.

Touch down at Sydney Airport Runway34L at 10:05am
A nice side view of the A380 with Qantas "Spirit of Australia" decal.

After the touch down, the press conference was held in the Qantas Heritage display room inside Qantas domestic terminal (T3). First John Borghetti, the Qantas PR and John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer - Customers, address the media and answering questions. Later, the crew including 3 of 6 test pilots who first flown the plane (Claude Lelaie, Jacques Rosay and Fernando Alonso) joined them to answer any technical questions.

John Leahy, Airbus Chief operating officer along John Borgehtti and test crew address the media.
Chief Test Pilot Claude Lelaie and Jacques Rosay
John Borgehtti, Charles Champion and John Leahy.

After the media presentation, the long awaited aircraft inspection has finally came! Participants were divided into group of 6 and the tour is guided by the Airbus test pilots. I have the honor to attend an early tour guide by the chief pilot Jacques Rosay.

Chief Test pilot Jacques Rosay on the stairs before showing the plane to us.
Just to see how wide the wing is! (and it bends!)

Photo taken from the very end of the main cabin, a long way to look up to the front!
This is the upper deck with tanks for weight and balancing.

Crew rest, traditional business class seats.
Cockpit features pull out keyboard and 2 wide  computer screen on the sides for pilots.
a 10.5mm fisheye view of the A380 cockpit.

Nice thought of Qantas even applied decals on engines.

Staircase lead to upper deck. Very wide

Fisheye angle effect from the rear.
Night view.

Wow, that was all I can say! The long mysterious of the A380 has been cleared in my mind! I was glad that I saw it all and despite all the testing equipment onboard, the lower deck was the tallest and widest cabin I've ever seen. The upper deck was slightly narrower. I think a 2-2-2 seating configuration is the best fit. There are 2 stairways to reach the upper deck, the main locates at the front near the entrance and a rear swirley one locates at the end. I walked around the A380 for a complete circle to admire the next crown jewel of the long haul travel. I was astounded to the height of the plane, the width of the wingspan and how low the main gears and the wide wheelbase. I went home with a full load of photos of A380 at the end of the day :-)

November 14, 2005 Monday

I woke up early in the morning and was ready to go to work but decided to see the historic A380 departure out of Sydney since there is only one chance. I chartered a Bell 47 Helicopter from Dynamic Helicopters in Bankstown, with the risk of not getting the permission into Sydney Airport aerospace, but I've convinced myself to take on the extra risk since this day will go down into history book and I shall act up if I want a better picture! I have every desire to make the best picture of the A380 so I was very determined.

At 11:00am we took off from Bankstown Airport, but unable to get a direct Sydney clearance and took George River 1 departure instead. I can see the A380 taxing towards Botany Bay for Rwy34L from a distance and was feared that I will miss it. After a very nervous 5 minutes we get to the western seawall of the runway and was allowed to hover around at no more than 500 feet. I was glad the traffic ahead has held up the A380 on the taxiway and surprisingly only 2-3 helicopters were around the area.

The A380 was held up on the taxiway, due to a queue of
departures.Here you can indirectly compare the
B777-300ER (Emirates) to A380. Look at how low the Ch7
helicopter hovering around!!!
Compare the A340 to the bigger brother A380. I
believe all eyes on the A380 and eagerly waiting its
departure at this point.
After the Air Tahiti Nui A340 takeoff, it is the A380 turn! Our helicopter proceeds further North to just above the beach area near the old control tower. I made the call to be around there and expecting a very powerful and fast takeoff since it is only going to Melbourne. I took a deep breath and starts to fire the shots away. The A380 rotated very early and began to climb toward the helicopter and was levelled with us after few seconds and climbing away from us after another few seconds and out of sight...(above us)

Without even finishing the capture of the photos, I knew that I made it and I was so confident. I just couldn't be any happier to learn that I made a right call!! (which is rare!) We left Sydney Airport after the A380 departure and headed back to Bankstown, the departure was the climax of all 3 days events and bring my A380 story to an end. The 3 days adventure goes well into my books.

She is up and off the ground!

Leveling with our altitude at 500feet
Climbing away with spectators on ground.

I hope you enjoyed my stories of chasing the A380 in Australia and I look forward to my first A380 passenger flight.

Speical thanks goes out to:

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) Jim
Sydney Airport Corporation (SACL)
Paul, Graham and his peers at Sydney ATC tower
Dynamic Helicopter

Please feel free to email me your comments.

Sam Chui
November 2005